Books  General Natural History  Environmental History 

Water, Life and Civilisation: Climate, Environment and Society in the Jordan Valley

Provides interdisciplinary research involving meteorology, hydrology, archaeology and geology, using methods which can be applied in other geographic areas
Demonstrates how simulations of the past can deepen our understanding of the climate system's response to changes. This helps us interpret future climate projections and assess the credibility of the model
Provides new insights into the prehistory and history of the Jordan Valley, one of the most important archaeological records for understanding world prehistory and history

Series: International Hydrology Series

By: Steven Mithen (Editor), Emily Black (Editor)

544 pages, 31 colour & 239 b/w illustrations, 87 tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Apr 2011 | #188194 | ISBN-13: 9780521769570
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £97.99 $120/€110 approx

About this book

A unique interdisciplinary study of the relationships between climate, hydrology and human society from 20,000 years ago to the present day within the Jordan Valley. It describes how state-of-the-art models can simulate the past, present and future climates of the Near East, reviews and provides new evidence for environmental change from geological deposits, builds hydrological models for the River Jordan and associated wadis and explains how present day urban and rural communities manage their water supply.

Water, Life and Civilisation provides a new approach and new methods that can be applied for exploring the relationships between climate, hydrology and human society in arid and semi-arid regions throughout the world. It is an invaluable reference for researchers and advanced students concerned with the impacts of climate change and hydrology on human society, especially in the Near East.


1. Introduction: an inter-disciplinary approach to water, life and civilisation

Part I. Past, Present and Future Climate
2. The present day climate of the Middle East
3. Past climates of the Middle East
4. Future climates of the Middle East
5. Connecting climate and hydrological models for impact studies

Part II. The Palaeoenvironmental Record
6. A review of palaeoclimates and palaeoenvironments in the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean from 25 000 to 5000 years BP
7. Palaeoenvironments of the Southern Levant from 5000 BP to the present day
8. Using proxy data, historical climate data and climate models to investigate aridification during the Holocene
9. Palaeoenvironmental and limnological reconstruction of Lake Lisan and the Dead Sea

Part III. Hydrological Studies of the Jordan Valley
10. The impacts of climate change on rainfall-runoff in the upper River Jordan: methodology and first projections
11. Modelling Dead Sea levels and rainfall: past, present and future
12. The hydrology of the Wadi Faynan
13. Future projections of water availability in a semi-arid region of the eastern Mediterranean: a case study of Wadi Hasa, Jordan

Part IV. Human Settlement, Climate Change, Hydrology and Water Management
14. The archaeology of water management in the Jordan Valley, 21 000 BP (19 000 BC) - AD 900
15. From global climate change to local impact in Wadi Faynan, southern Jordan: ten millennia of human settlement in its hydrological context
16. Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction at Beidha, southern Jordan (ca.18 000-8500 BP): implications for human occupation during the Natufian and pre-pottery Neolithic
17. The influence of water on Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age settlement patterns in the southern Levant
18. Modelling water resources and climate change at the Bronze Age site of Jawa in northern Jordan: a new approach utilising stochastic simulation techniques
19. A millennium of rainfall, settlement and water-management at Humayma, southern Jordan, 100 BC-900 AD

Part V. Palaeo-Economies and Developing Archaeological Methodologies
20. The reconstruction of diet and environment in ancient Jordan by carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis of human and animal remains
21. Irrigation and phytolith formation: an experimental study
22. An investigation into the archaeological application of carbon stable isotope analysis used to establish crop water availability: solutions and ways forward
23. Past plant use in Jordan as revealed by archaeological and ethnoarchaeological phytolith signatures

Part VI. Society, Economy and Water Today
24. Current water demands and future strategies under changing climatic conditions
25. Water reuse for irrigated agriculture in Jordan: soil sustainability, perceptions and management
26. Social equity issues and water supply under conditions of 'water stress': a study of low- and high-income households in Greater Amman, Jordan
27. The role of water and land management policies in contemporary socio-economic development in Wadi Faynan
28. Political discourses and public narratives on water supply issues in Amman, Jordan
29. Overview and reflections: 20 000 years of water and human settlement in the southern Levant


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Steven Mithen is Professor of Early Prehistory and Pro-Vice Chancellor for International and External Affairs at the University of Reading. Having originally studied at the Slade School for Fine Art, he has a BA degree in Archaeology (Sheffield University), an MSc in Biological Computation (York University) and a PhD in Archaeology (Cambridge University). He was appointed a lecturer at the University of Reading in 1992, where he has since served as Head of the School of Human and Environmental Sciences (2003-2008) and Dean of the Faculty of Science (2008-2010) prior to his present appointment as a Pro Vice Chancellor. He directs archaeological fieldwork projects in Western Scotland, where he is attempting to reconstruct Mesolithic settlement patterns, and in southern Jordan where he is excavating the early Neolithic village of WF16 in Wadi Faynan. In addition to such archaeological research, he has sought to develop interdisciplinary approaches to the past by integrating archaeology with theories and methods from the environmental and cognitive sciences. He is the author of several books including The Prehistory of the Mind (1996), After the Ice (2003), The Singing Neanderthals (2005) and To the Islands (2010), and editor of The Early Prehistory of Wadi Faynan (2007, with Bill Finlayson) and Hunter-Gatherer Landscape Archaeology (2000).

Steven Mithen was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2003. Emily Black is a senior research fellow at the University of Reading. After completing a BA in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge and a DPhil in Andean tectonics at the University of Oxford, in 2000, she was appointed a post-doctoral research fellow at the Climate Division of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. In 2005, she took up the post of project manager of the Water, Life and Civilisation project. She has published widely in the scientific literature on a variety of topics, including Middle East climate change, African rainfall variability and seasonal forecasting.

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